On This Day in History, August 19

In 1692, as part of the Salem Witch trials, five individuals were executed. Four of the five were men, including clergyman George Burroughs, for their involvement with witchcraft. The five executed were indicted, tried, and convicted alongside Elizabeth Proctor, who was given a stay of execution on the grounds of being pregnant. These trials have been mythicized in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible.

In 1854, the First Sioux War broke out following the Grattan massacre. A group of American soldiers entered a Lakota encampment to arrest an accused man despite treaty agreements. One of them ended up fatally shooting Chief Conquering Bear, and in return the Lakota killed 31 of the Americans, including their commander and their interpreter. The First Sioux War was the first in a series of wars between the Untied States and the Sioux people.

In 1936, the Great Purge of the Soviet Union begins with the convening of the first Moscow Trial. This trial is known as ‘the Case of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Center’. Those involved and tried in what amounted to a show trial were accused of seeking to kill Stalin and other Soviet leaders. One was even accused of collaborating with Trotsky, who Stalin had forced out of the country with his ascension to power. They were all convicted and executed for their alleged crime.

A Notable Birth

1910 – Saint Alphonsa Muttathupandathuin (d. 1946) was an Indian member of the Eastern Catholic Church, a religious teacher, and the first of their number to be canonized as a saint, which was done so in 2008. Many of the miracles attested to her were connected to her students.

A Notable Death

2011 – Raúl Ruiz (b. 1941) was a Chilean director, whose films were best known in France. His debut film, Three Sad Tigers, set the stage for his career of producing surreal and avant-garde films, especially following his move to France after Pinochet’s coup.

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